Chapter 53:

052 – Coming Back to School Just to Leave Anew

Rainbow of the Horizon—Illuminating Our Darkened Path | Our World

June 17.Bookmark here

How long has it been since I sat in front of my bedroom's window? Let's see… Oh, twenty minutes.Bookmark here

I woke up at 6:11am and I've been sitting here still with my salivary breath which, yes I know that's gross since I haven't even left my room to gargle. I immediately waited with my hand on my chin while sitting on my chair, for Ojou-san to wake up but she still hasn't.Bookmark here

I've been in a relationship with Rin for nearly two years and it will be weird if I still don't know her sleeping habits… Actually, me knowing is still weird anyway. At these situations, she has the tendency to either not wake up even if you want her to, or she will wake up on her own. Not even a hug, flattery, strawberries, Gin, or the smell of A5 Japanese wagyu searing can wake her up. In the end, her sleeping habits are still a hit and miss.Bookmark here

"Ringo…! Hey, wake up now!Bookmark here

Oh, good morning, Gin."Bookmark here

And the time has come for Aunt Sumi to crash in to her room and raise her voice but it made no response. I waved and smiled at her as she saw me watching from the window.Bookmark here

"Really… that kind of thing only happens to Sis when she's sleep-deprived, and her imouto just up and does this so often."Bookmark here

"And you know what, Gin? This girl rarely got late in school."Bookmark here

"I guess calling her Nezuko will do nothing, huh."Bookmark here

"Ugh… So noisy…" surprisingly, Rin mumbled in her sleep.Bookmark here

"That's a good sign… Gin!"Bookmark here

I immediately took the slapstick and stepped on the other room's sill as I poked in my upper body inside her room. It was hard to navigate since her bed is right beside the window.Bookmark here

I whispered to Aunt if I will be disturbing anyone if I make a loud noise, but she said no. Thus, I started slamming the wall with continuous sharp sound of whacks.Bookmark here

"No…! C's are invading my room…!" she screamed whilst vigorously getting up.Bookmark here

"No, Ringo. But C's are still more disgusting than salivary breath."Bookmark here

"Auntie, how did you know that?"Bookmark here

"Ah. Eh. Uhh. Oh… Good morning… Mom and Potato…?"Bookmark here

I will just say this once—contrary to being called Potato every single time, she still calls me by my name.Bookmark here

"Good morning, Ojou-san. It's time for school."Bookmark here

"Fuehhh…? I thought it's just Sunday…"Bookmark here

"Wow. You really like having dreams of being a day before the current one. Last time I saw, you had a big grin on your face."Bookmark here

"I didn't know that happened to Rin, Aunt. Please tell me more."Bookmark here

"Alright~ Join us for breakfast then."Bookmark here

"Really? No casualties to my fridge, I guess."Bookmark here

"Ahhhh…! Alright, I'll get up!" Rin pouted.Bookmark here

"Hahahaha. Sorry for just suddenly entering your room. I'll be back in my house to freshen up and then I'll be back."Bookmark here

Aunt replied an alright, but then stopped at the doorway, "Do you eat rice on mornings, Gin?" and asked that.Bookmark here

"I'm not a morning person so I only eat something heavy when I don't wake up early."Bookmark here

"I'll take note of that from now on."Bookmark here

"Aunt Sumi, please don't imply things like that."Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

"Man… so our children are now second year in senior high…! You two really grew fast!"Bookmark here

As always, Uncle Shuu is also lively today.Bookmark here

"I guess it will make for a celebration once you two graduate!" he added.Bookmark here

"Step on the brakes, Dad. We don't even know if we'll graduate."Bookmark here

"Well, Rin and I aren't an exception to the pessimism of graduating students. Surely Aunt and Uncle also experienced this."Bookmark here

"Fufu… Now I remember when Shuu was still courting me back in college. I told him that we should finish our studies first before he can date me."Bookmark here

"Ugh… the gap…" I looked away.Bookmark here

That was the first time I'm hearing the story of Rin's parents, and it sure hit hard on us. We still aren't even in college and I'm already in a relationship with Rin.Bookmark here

Jean, you can rely on Uncle Shuu instead of me.Bookmark here

Aunt Sumi continued, "He began courting me on our first year, but he cried so hard when he found out that he had to repeat his third year."Bookmark here

Jean, make sure that you won't repeat a year before relying on Uncle Shuu instead of me.Bookmark here

Rin's head slammed on the table, laughing as her shoulders twitched.Bookmark here

"So then… it turns out that Aunt Sumi ended up being the one waiting?"Bookmark here

"Pfft…!" Rin burst out.Bookmark here

"Hahh… It's an embarrassing story, but it really happened to us.Bookmark here

I however ranked twelfth in our graduating class!"Bookmark here

"And the number of graduates was twelve?" I had to ask.Bookmark here

"That's rude, musuko! We were 29 in our class that graduated!"Bookmark here

"By the way, Aunt. What was your maiden name? I'm just curious, though."Bookmark here

"My maiden name? It's Anokane."Bookmark here

"Oh? So you're related with Erika, then?"Bookmark here

"She's my niece."Bookmark here

"What the… Rin, I didn't know you were cousins."Bookmark here

"Ah. So I didn't tell you?"Bookmark here

Bookmark here

"By the way, Rin. Did you also get Mato's message?"Bookmark here

"Yeah. He asked us about our club enlistment but I said I'll remain, of course."Bookmark here

"I wonder what he's up to even before the school year begins. I guess I'll go ask the others later if they also got the message."Bookmark here

"I'm pretty sure they did."Bookmark here

"Well, thanks for the breakfast. I'll go get ready for school. See you in a bit."Bookmark here

"Can we go by bike, Gin?"Bookmark here

"Sure thing."Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

Of course it was still the same uniform we had from last year, so there is nothing worth mentioning. The same goes for Blue Ink itself. As we reached the bike parking, it already strike my mind that nothing striking has changed in the school, compared to when we were still a fourth year in JHS up to last year. There were new buildings and facilities made, and even a gymnasium was established for a school this small in population.Bookmark here

I have to say though. Tenth has a good sense for aesthetic architecture.Bookmark here

But indeed, no new additions that are apparent can be seen. Thus, we made our way to the school grounds and sat under the century old tree, assuming that the others are still not here.Bookmark here

Although, the first people we saw are Tenth and Akira entering the school together. We exchanged greetings and they immediately went to the office.Bookmark here

Another pair has been found, and it was something that finally strikes me. So early in the morning, Nagi and Shiro are already eating popsicle while entering the gate. If I have to guess, Nagi suggested that and Shiro just went along with it as her sweet tooth got over her. They went straight to the bulletin board after waving at us.Bookmark here

"Oh, yeah. We didn't stop by the board, Rin."Bookmark here

"We kinda forgot, huh."Bookmark here

And the entrance of pairs did not end there. I was expecting that it will be Jean and Ai-san, but surprisingly, Rin and I saw Rena from the CA class. With her is a man that is probably older than her. Upon further observation, we noticed an intimacy between them. It was cheerful, yet we felt innocence.Bookmark here

"So Rena has a guy, huh. Nothing surprising for someone older than me."Bookmark here

Needless to say, she didn't greet nor notice us.Bookmark here

"Nii? I didn't see you enter the gate," suddenly, we heard Anna's voice.Bookmark here

Seeing that the stone bench under the tree wraps around the trunk and roots, we didn't see my little sister with Naru as they are on the opposite side.Bookmark here

I kind of forgot that they are also seniors now. I don't think I will quickly get used to them with that uniform.Bookmark here

"Have you gone to your department, Anna?"Bookmark here

"Not yet. We're waiting for Ai-chan.Bookmark here

Oh, speaking of."Bookmark here

Here goes another pair. Jean and Ai-san just entered the school. But by that time, Nagi and Shiro came back to us.Bookmark here

"Hey. Go check the orientation schedule," he said.Bookmark here

And so Rin and I did.Bookmark here

"So our orientation in CA is earlier than in VA, huh."Bookmark here

Yuuga popped up beside us and spoke, "I guess I'll have a vacant right off the bat. I'll draw some pages then."Bookmark here

"Hey there, Yuu."Bookmark here

"Don't call me that, Gin!"Bookmark here

"Have you seen G and Mori already?"Bookmark here

"They're already in the room. I'll be going ahead."Bookmark here

"Sure."Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

Jean and our schedule linked so we ended up on the CA room. It was the same environment from last year. They are all the same faces.Bookmark here

But then, our attention was directed to Rena. She was very different from when we saw her with his boyfriend earlier compared to now. She reverted to her usual quiet self in contrast to her cheerfulness that we just saw.Bookmark here

"Hmm. I'm amazed with how she can take care of her hair in that length," Rin murmured.Bookmark here

"Weren't your hair also long when you're a first year?"Bookmark here

"I completely forgot what I was doing to my hair that time. And mine wasn't as long as that."Bookmark here

"I see. I guess I'll ask Aunt Sumi to get a look in your photo album."Bookmark here

"Eh."Bookmark here

"Ah, right, Jean. You'll be 18 next year right?"Bookmark here

※ Jean was born in 2002.Bookmark here

"Yeah. Can you tell Hiroomi that I'll be applying as a regular by then?"Bookmark here

It was my intention to ask him about what he will do once he turned that age, but even I was surprised when he said that.Bookmark here

"Is that so? He'll be glad to have you. Make your resume in advance, then. And be ready for a practical. We might have a window for February since the start of the year is still quite busy."Bookmark here

"I'll keep that in mind."Bookmark here

"You haven't even graduated by that time, Jean and you're already thinking of that?" asked Rin.Bookmark here

"I'm planning on going to a culinary school in college, so why not?"Bookmark here

I then turned to Rin, "You haven't really talked about your college of choice, huh."Bookmark here

She replied, "I might take a shot in CCI (Cotona Culinary Institute) if I pass a scholarship."Bookmark here

"Ohhhh."Bookmark here

"What, don't tell me you don't have anything in mind after graduating, Potato?"Bookmark here

"Y-Yeah… I'm still thinking about that, but I'm already working as a sous chef…"Bookmark here

"Hmm… Makes sense."Bookmark here

▪ ▪ ▪Bookmark here

It turned out that nothing significant went on in both of our department's orientation so we just waited on the classroom before the assembly, as the Art Room is closed for some reason. I asked Mato-sen, but he just gave us a vague response.Bookmark here

I asked the others about the enlistment and they did say that they will still be in the club. One thing that is clear is that something is unclear. There's some kind of mystery in Mato's actions.Bookmark here

Bookmark here

Thinking back on a side note, some insane things happened back in my fourth year and first year in SHS. Heck, even I nearly died, frankly.Bookmark here

I'm saying that since this first day in school has become dull aside from the motivational speech that Tenth had in the assembly that actually moved the students. There is also a new implementation in the system, as the Amplification incident has been cleared out.Bookmark here

And it was relieving to see that Ryota is still attending school.Bookmark here

Distractions aside, the earpieces are now a thing of the past. It was however replaced with pins that you can either put on your collar, shirt pocket, or most appropriately, in the neckties of our winter uniform. What was explained is that the pins will act as our identification apart from physical cards, and that it will automatically scan our attendance in the school. But it can't be exploited as you still have to manually scan your ID if by any chance someone forgot to bring it.Bookmark here

I have to repeat, though. Tenth has a good aesthetic sense. He made such a silver pin look posh.Bookmark here

But there was something we were weirded out earlier. I was with Rin and Jean in the assembly, and I heard some whispers from somewhere talking about us. They said:Bookmark here

"W-Woah… That's Ringo Akanami, Jean Ando, and Gin Sakato all in one place…"Bookmark here

"You're right… So they are the 'Triumvirate of CA?'"Bookmark here

"The three best cooks in Blue Ink… I so want to taste their dishes."Bookmark here

It came from underclassmen. Even I didn't know of that rumor until now. At that point, three things came to mind:Bookmark here

Ranking system in Blue Ink is nonexistent. They ought to refrain from saying that.Bookmark here

My minimal exposure is at risk.Bookmark here

Lastly, do they actually know what the definition of triumvirate is?Bookmark here

▪ ▪ ▪Bookmark here

Ten minutes before dismissal.Bookmark here

"Attention to all the current members of the Art Club, there will be a meeting inside the administration office in five minutes' time.Bookmark here

Please come to the office immediately."Bookmark here

Surprisingly, it was Mato-sen's voice on the mic of the broadcasting room.Bookmark here

"So that's why he's not in homeroom?"Bookmark here

All of us from VA went in front of the office as we met with Jean. Upon entering the office, we were asked to go to the meeting room where Tenth and Akira are already sat. Presumably, Mato-sen is still making his way here.Bookmark here

"Is this the first time you called out a whole club for a meeting, Tenth?"Bookmark here

G suddenly asked, "Who's Tenth, Gin?"Bookmark here

"Don't mind it."Bookmark here

"Sorry for being late," Mato-sen immediately entered and took a seat.Bookmark here

"Well then. Do we all agree can that we can start the meeting now?" Tenth asked.Bookmark here

We nodded.Bookmark here

"Alright. I guess there's no point in too much elaboration. Even before the school year began, we already had a request directly to the office pertaining to a client work for TAC. Upon further consideration of both parties, we reached an agreement and I decided to accept the request.Bookmark here

To put it simply, if not big, it could be a colossal project where you are tasked to paint two murals that are 60 meters in length and 3 meters in its height."Bookmark here

We felt bad for snickering since Mori was the only one that did not get the joke.Bookmark here

"Anyway, since it's a tedious project, the duration of it will be for three weeks. But knowing the club's performance, I think you will be ahead of the deadline in a couple of days at max."Bookmark here

Nagi raised his hand, "Where's the location then, Tenth?"Bookmark here

"The northern Cotona is still quite cold and breezy."Bookmark here

Nagi fainted from great joy.Bookmark here

"Woah. Near the mountains?" I asked.Bookmark here

"On the mountains, Gin. Akira scouted a place for you to stay beforehand. It is an inn that is a little isolated from the middle of the town, but the mural location is a walking distance from there so it's quite convenient."Bookmark here

I followed up, "And the transportation?"Bookmark here

"We'll have you use a van. I guess that Sir Martin and Gin will be the ones driving. It will be around a two-hour drive from here to there."Bookmark here

They all flinched as I flinched before them. I saw them having a confused expression while watching me shift my head everywhere. Actually, I was just doing maths on my head.Bookmark here

"So if it's two hours sharp… let's see…Bookmark here

Ah! One minute and twenty-four seconds!"Bookmark here

Rin, Akira, and Tenth facepalmed at the same time.Bookmark here

I based a calculation to my speed, in which a walk will take ten minutes from my house to school, but it will be seven seconds if I ran at my speed so…Bookmark here

10 minutes=7 secondsBookmark here

…and if it is exactly 2 hours…Bookmark here

120 minutes=84 secondsBookmark here

Hence, that time is roughly what I need to take before coming to Giotto's for work. It is three weeks, and I can't afford to just take leave like that. It may be a cut on my bills, but it will also be a cut on my earnings if I don't work.Bookmark here

"Moving on, we have to talk about our budget for that duration. Your stay in that inn will however be free of charge, so that's excluded. What we need to focus on is the restocking of materials, food, and fuel. The clothes are of course all up to you; just be wise on how many you bring," Mato explained.Bookmark here

"So that's why you asked us Mato-sen?"Bookmark here

"That's right, Jean."Bookmark here

"Umm… I have a question, Sir Juushiro."Bookmark here

"What is it, Ginji?"Bookmark here

"It is literally just the beginning of a new school year, so how will our studies become a balancing factor to that?"Bookmark here

"That is a good question. We've arranged that all you study sessions will be self-study, and all of the references will be sent via cloud. It is unnecessary to say, but the internet speed on the mountains is five times faster than Gin's."Bookmark here

I released a deep nani.Bookmark here

"More importantly, I have to apologize about this being so abrupt. You are scheduled to leave for Wednesday, early in the morning."Bookmark here

"Ugh…!" G and I let out at the same time as we nodded in agreement and that our thoughts linked.Bookmark here

"Gin and I suggest including nausea pills on the budget…"Bookmark here

"Potato, so that's what you meant when you're not a morning person?"Bookmark here

"Yeah… I get motion sick if I ride a vehicle early in the morning that's why I eat only a little or nothing but coffee…"Bookmark here

"But you haven't gone into an early morning trip even since then, right?"Bookmark here

What Rin meant to say was about me after I came out of the Void. Indeed, there hasn't been any instance that I traveled early, so I can't say for sure.Bookmark here

"Hahh… I hope that I developed a little immunity to it."Bookmark here

"Right then. It all boils down to the decision of you, TAC. I will make a decision upon the majority decision. Either we accept or decline."Bookmark here

"It goes without saying, Tenth.Bookmark here

We're all in for it."Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

Unusually, the two of us are walking with G, which makes us a rare trio.Bookmark here

"I feel like I need to ask about this, Gin."Bookmark here

"Hmm?"Bookmark here

"I know that Sir Juushiro is a little eccentric, but were you really conversing with him normally earlier? No, even Nacchi was talking so casually!Bookmark here

I wonder why I wasn't even surprised when he knew of my history…"Bookmark here

"Don't be shocked, but we're actually friends in and out the school. My father had a link with him in the past, which turns out that I was also part of that link. Also, he's part of the front lines in the Horach encounter."Bookmark here

"So he's also an Exile…?" he whispered.Bookmark here

"I guess Potato will be a pain in the butt once we begin traveling…"Bookmark here

"Ringo, keep in mind that you're pretty much telling me that I'm also a pain in the butt."Bookmark here

"Sorry not sorry, Potato and G."Bookmark here


Chapter Message:Bookmark here

That ends 052!Bookmark here

ahoyBookmark here

Thank you for reading!Bookmark here

NextBookmark here

053: The road-sick squad's survival and the surprise of the inn.Bookmark here

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